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Manic Monday Live Blog: Coaching upheaval

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 4:30 PM / NHL Insider

By NHL.com Staff

Former assistant endorses Hunter
6:59 PM ET

NHL.com's Mike Morreale caught up with London Knights' assistant Misha Donskov about new Caps coach Dale Hunter. Donskov spent two seasons under Hunter, and said his talent for man management and molding future stars will aid him in his new post.

"Dale is a guy of a few words, but when he does speak, it's timely and powerful," Donskov said. "The thing is, you only have so many silver bullets as a coach, but Dale knows what words to use and when … and he's very good at it."

Hear more from Donskov in Morreale's full story.

Alex Ovechkin addresses media
6:41 PM ET

Washington captain Alex Ovechkin addresses the media following Monday's practice -- the Caps' first with new coach Dale Hunter.



Can Hunter turn Ovi's season around?
6:15 PM ET

Players and analysts alike agreed that part of the reason Bruce Boudreau was shown the door was Alex Ovechkin's plodding start in 2011-12. Ovechkin, the Capitals' captain and one of the League's most exciting and prolific players since entering the League in 2005-06, has just three goals in 13 games in November.

New Caps coach Dale Hunter wore the 'C' in Washington for five seasons, and earlier today he told NHL.com's Corey Masisak that he's got the man-management skills to revive the Russian.

"Definitely, I can help," Hunter said. "It's responsibility because you're dealing with other players and you're the go-between between the coaches and them. He shouldn't have it all on his shoulders, winning or losing, or getting the players to play the right way or dealing with the players, it's more that we have a good bunch of guys that care about winning and losing and there's going to be more team leadership and more team wins."

Read Masisak's breakdown of Ovechkin and his new coach here.

Boudreau's Hershey trio saddened by firing
6:01 PM ET

When Bruce Boudreau graduated from the AHL's Hershey Bears to the Washington Capitals four years ago, plenty of Hershey alumni suited up alongside him. Three of those players remain on the Capitals' roster -- Brooks Laich, Jeff Schultz and Mike Green -- and NHL.com's Corey Masisak was on the scene for a reaction from players whose careers were largely molded by Boudreau's guidance.

From Schultz: "It was sad news to hear that he's moving on. I think a lot of guys owe a lot to him to being where they are today. I know myself being one of them -- he's given me a great opportunity starting in Hershey and now here with the Caps. I'm very grateful to have played for him."

Get Masisak's full story on the Hershey trio's tough Monday here.

Hunter feels at home in Washington
5:44 PM ET

Just one practice into his new coaching gig behind the Capitals bench, Dale Hunter feels right at home in the nation's capital. That's partly a result of his past relationship with Washington, an organization for which Hunter played 872 games from 1978-99.

"Definitely, this has been my team," Hunter said after his first practice with the Caps on Monday afternoon. "I shouldn't say ‘my team' -- it's really [owner] Ted [Leonsis'] team, but it feels like my team because I played here for so long and have many good memories here."

Hunter spent the intervening 12 seasons transforming the London Knights into a perennial OHL contender. Capitals' GM George McPhee said he wasn't concerned with Hunter's lack of professional coaching experience.

"Coaching is coaching," McPhee said, "and he's been coaching at a good level and at a high level. The same questions were asked of [Boudreau] when he came here [without NHL coaching experience], and he had an outstanding record.

"The man played in the League for 19 years. He's played for a lot of coaches. Dale really understands this game. He knows two things -- farming and hockey. He's really got them both."

Read NHL.com correspondent Ben Raby's full story on Hunter's hiring.

Bylsma talks mid-season change

4:27 PM ET


The Pittsburgh Penguins play both the Washington Capitals (Thursday) and Carolina Hurricanes (Saturday) during this week's road trip. So, it was only natural that they were interested in what went down on Manic Monday and had their own opinions after Monday's practice at Southpointe.

"I never feel good about seeing a coach in that position, regardless of who they are and what team they’re coaching for," said Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma, who was an in-season replacement for the Penguins in 2009. "I do think it's certainly going to add a spark to the game coming up with their new coach coming in and us being an opponent shortly after Bruce (Boudreau) getting fired. So I'm expecting it to really be a charged up and energized game."

Crosby was a part of the Bylsma change a few years ago. He knows what to expect from these teams playing for new coaches against the Penguins this week.

"You always expect a team to be fired up with a fresh start, or new start. Guys want to make sure they earn the respect of their new coach. You can expect an excited and hungry team. It doesn’t really change what we have to do. We’re going on the road and playing teams that we expect to come out hard. If anything this will make us focus more on what we have to do."

Thanks to NHL.com correspondent Alan Robinson for providing the quotes.

To-do list for Hunter

3:52 PM ET


Not to be out-done by Dave Lozo, who already checked in with a six-item to-do list for new Carolina coach Kirk Muller, NHL.com senior wrIter Dan Rosen checks in with a similar list for Dale Hunter, the new Head man in Washington.

Everyone knows that getting the most out of Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin have to be the top two items on that list, but the other four might surprise you. Want to know what they are? Well, then go read the story.


Coaching carousel spinning

3:02 PM ET


NHL Network's EJ Hradek stopped by the NHL.com offices to chat with NHL.com senior writer Dan Rosen to chat about the morning craziness that defined Manic Monday.



A full hot seat

3:02 PM ET


Once a coach gets fired, speculation turns to who from the fraternity will be next. When two coaches are dismissed on the same day, that speculation only intensifies.

So, which NHL coach is starting to feel the heat for his team's play?

Senior Writer Dan Rosen made up his list and checked it twice. There are seven names on it and one Western Conference head coach has to be considered a surprise. Check out the list to find out who?


Muller's agenda
3:02 PM ET

Kirk Muller is going to be a pretty busy man between now and Tuesday, when he coaches his first game as the head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes.

To save the new coach a bit of time, NHL.com staff writer Dave Lozo was kind enough to put together a six-item to do list for the new head man in Raleigh.

Obviously high on that list is fixing Eric Staal, who has struggled through the first quarter of the season.

But, what else is on the list? You have to read the story to find out.


McPhee discusses changes
2:49 PM ET

Back after a little lunch and the news just keeps pouring into the office.

NHL staff writer Corey Masisak was on hand today for the press conferences at Kettler. With his first report, Masisak talks to GM George McPhee about the decisions behind relieving Bruce Boudreau of his duties and opting to name Dale Hunter as his replacement.

"The reason for the change was we weren't winning, obviously, and this wasn't a slump," McPhee said. "You can ride out slumps. This was simply a case of the players were no longer responding to Bruce. When you see that, as much as you don't want to make a change, you have to make a change. Bruce did a terrific job. We're very proud of him, proud of the work he did for us, but when the players aren't responding, you have to make a change.

"The issue was we weren't playing very well. And I think Bruce came in here and emptied the tank. He gave it everything he could and did a really good job, but the tank was empty. When that happens, you get a new coach, where the tank is full, and see if it makes a difference."

Want to hear more from McPhee? Check out the whole story here.


Muller's lasting impact
1:46 PM ET

Raleigh News & Observer columnist Luke DeCock has gathered up some quotes from the Montreal Canadiens regarding Carolina's hiring of Kirk Muller, who was an assistant for five years with the Canadiens.

"That's great for him. Kirky was a guy that really tried to work really hard with our young guys. He was very good with his communication, very straightforward," said Lars Eller.

Read all the comments, including a glowing review from P.K. Subban, here.

Remembering the good times
1:24 PM ET

Sure, this season has been tough for Bruce Boudreau. But let's not forget that before Monday's dismissal, Boudreau was the fastest coach to 200 wins from the start of a career. In fact, there were a good amount of highlights to Boudreau's tenure with the Capitals.

Take a trip down memory lane with NHL.com staff writer Adam Kimelman as he relives both the ups and downs of Bodreau's time with the Capitals.

Big payday for Muller
1:19 PM ET

As we mentioned earlier, Kirk Muller made a huge gamble this summer when he walked away from a high-profile assistant coaching job with the Canadiens to take a head job with Milwaukee in the American Hockey League.

He did so under the belief that being the head man in the A would raise his profile among the NHL GM fraternity. That thinking proved to be very sound as he coached just 17 games with the Admirals before Carolina GM Jimmy Rutherford came calling.

NHL.com correspondent John Manasso talked about the whole process with Muller this summer. It is an interesting story to read as background for what happened today.


Not much security in coaching
1:05 PM ET

Unless your name is Lindy Ruff or Barry Trotz, there isn't much security in being an NHL coach these days. In the wake of the dismissals of Bruce Boudreau and Paul Maurice, we decided to put together a list of seniority among NHL coaches.

To say it was an interesting exercise would be an understatement. Mike Babcock is No. 3 on the list and he has only been with the Detroit Red Wings for the past six seasons.

Amazingly, 20 of the 30 coaches in the League have only been on the job since 2009 or later. Dan Bylsma, who took over the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2009 season, is already No. 11 on the coaching seniority list.

Check out the list to find some of your own fun facts about NHL coaches.



Culture change leads to Boudreau's downfall
1:01 PM ET

NHL.com senior writer Dan Rosen says Bruce Boudreau's attempts to spread ice time and stress defensive responsibility were a big part in his inability to survive the 2011-12 season.

"But over the last 12 months Boudreau's message and his system had changed. No longer was this going to be the fun-loving, free-wheeling Capitals. No longer were they going to try to put five goals on the board because it would be enough to make up for the three or four they allowed. No longer were they going to rely on the stars, namely Ovechkin, to bail them out.

"Boudreau was making changes in an attempt to save his team's reputation and, in the long run, his job."

Read the full story here.


Rosen's take on Bodreau dismissal

12:55 PM ET

NHL.com senior writer Dan Rosen says that the dismissal of Bruce Boudreau comes at the right time considering the struggles of Alex Semin, Alex Ovechkin and the team's performavce over the past 15 games. Check out the video here.

NHL Network's take

12:54 PM ET

The NHL Network has all the deatils on both firings in its latest Cisco news update.

Kind words from Leonsis
12:10 PM ET

Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis is quite the blogger, using his Ted's Takes forum on the web to discuss all facets of his business, including the Washington Capitals. Monday, he used the forum to priase Bruce Boudreau, despite the fact that he had just been fired.

"I always will be thankful for Bruce’s time with the Capitals and will remember him fondly. He is a great coach who I’m confident will land another spot in the NHL. Unfortunately the shelf life of a coach is short; Bruce was the fifth longest tenured coach in the league. That’s amazing to me." Leonsis said in his blog post.

Read the full posting here.

It's official in Carolina
12:10 PM ET

The Carolina Hurricanes have ended a morning full of speculation, officially naming Kirk Muller as the team's new head coach. He will be introduced to the media at a 5 p.m. press conference in Raleigh.

Muller, who had coached with Montreal as an assistant for the past five years, took the head coaching job in Milwaukee this summer in the belief that it would be a faster track to the NHL. Monday, that faith proved to be well-placed.

A crazy morning

11:58 AM ET

So much for easing into the Monday morning after Thanksgiving.

Before the first cup of coffee was even consumed here at NHL.com, the National Hockey League was turned on its ear with the announcement that Bruce Boudreau had been fired by the Washington Capitals, replaced by legendary player Dale Hunter.

Then, less than an hour later, word started trickling out of Carolina that Paul Maurice would be relieved of his duties with the Hurricanes. Soon, that news became official.

The Hurricanes have a late afternoon press conference Monday to officially name their new coach. Multiple reports suggest that the new coach will be legendary player Kirk Muller, who took the head coaching job in Milwaukee of the American Hockey League at the start of the season.

Stay tuned to the Manic Monday Live Blog all day for all the news relating to these coaching changes and any other alterations that may change the coaching landscape.


Once again, it shows character in this dressing room. Once again, there's no quitting in here. We all wanted this so bad and we worked so hard to get home-ice advantage and we weren't going to let this one slide.

— Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog on his team's OT Game 1 win vs. Minnesota Wild